Summertime fun flies into town
By Margaret Melloy Guziak
The song “Summertime” in the musical “Porgy & Bess” (lyrics by DuBose Heyward and music by George and Ira Gershwin) says it all: “Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.” Summer is always a time for family fun and doing things together, especially on the weekends. We are lucky to live in western Colorado where they are so many things to do that are close to home.
This was our second year to attend the annual Garfield County Air Show in Rifle. We love old planes and air shows. Over the years we’ve watched many of them around the country. This is one of the best, and thanks to the many sponsors, it was free. We booked a motel and stayed over in Rifle Friday night so we could enjoy all the show that was scheduled to end at 10 p.m. on Friday evening. We planned to return to the airport on Saturday morning before leaving for home later that day.
We’d arrived at the Air Show at Noon, Friday, strolled around, visited with the people at their planes and displays, chatted with more airplane fanatics like ourselves, and watched the aerobatics overhead and the fun antics of “Otto the Helicopter” piloted by Roger Buis. About 5 p.m. we left for our air-conditioned motel to cool off, planning to return for the evening show.
Arriving back at the airport an hour later, we spotted the highway patrol stationed on the road at the entrance, directing cars out of the airport’s parking lot and stopping anyone from turning in. A heavy windstorm had blown through, tackling the vendors’ tents and some spectators, and prevented planes from flying. Fortunately, the crew had already stored some aircraft when the expected storm approached Rifle. Because of safety concerns, Friday night’s performances were cancelled.
It reminded us of the old quote about “the best laid plans of mice and men off times go awry”. So, that was what happened to us. Surely, it had nothing to do with it being Friday, the 13th. The entire show was scheduled to resume again on Saturday morning, and it did, to a steady stream of happy people enjoying the warm breezes and sunny skies, all ready to have a good time.
The “Tora, Tora, Tora” show put on by the (CAF) Commemorative Air Force’s re-enactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, with the “Wall of Fire” was not here this year because of Colorado’s fire restriction concerns. They announced that it has been re-booked for next year’s 2013 Rifle Air Show. Six replica Japanese Zeros used in the early film of the same name were donated to the CAF, Gulf Coast Wing who developed a presentation for air shows hosted in U.S., Mexico and Canada. In the spring of 2000, they were used in a Disney film. The CAF has been doing this professional act for 33 years.
And the people of Rifle, Colorado who hosted the show with all their volunteers were magnificent. Everything was so well organized from the easy parking with staff to guide the cars into the lots, to providing some free, shaded areas with folding tables and chairs on the tarmac where people could rest or eat while watching the spectacular aerobatics above them and listen to the professional excellent music of Barron Steffan’s Orchestra and the singing, stylish gal trio, “Ladies For Liberty”, performing on the big, outdoor stage. See www.ladiesforliberty.com and www.barronsteffan.com for more information about these performers.
The smiles, the “welcomes” and the “hellos” from the local people who graciously handed out colorful, detailed, 40-page, free programs to everyone were delightful. Lots of young Moms and Dads pushed strollers holding their wide-eyed, happy children around the air show. Many brought their own folding chairs to watch in comfort from the edge of the tarmac near the runway. Others brought umbrellas and blankets to leisurely stretch out with their families on the grassy lawn areas in the rear.
One of the hangars was designated the “KIDS’ ZONE” with FREE inflatable slides, rides, Bounce Castles and Space Shuttles. They also had the bungee jump and water balls where kids could climb inside and try to walk around on water. Some kids gathered around members of the “Wings of Blue”, a parachuting unit from the Air Force Academy, and watched the jumpers methodically refold their chutes after their earlier performance.
There was a M-4 Flight Simulator along with various exhibits of planes ranging from the T-6 Texan, single engine trainer to the P-51 mustang; from the Piper J-3 and the P-40 Warhawk to the classic 1942 Stearman biplane from Heber City, Utah. The WWII Flying Fortress B-17, one of only 11 airworthy B-17s left in the world today, offered tours and rides. For more information on the B-17, go to www.gulfcoastwing.org
The Garfield County Regional Airport in Rifle put on a tremendous two-day Air Show on July 13 and 14, 2012 and it was everything they had advertised. The theme of the show was “Remembering the Past, Inspiring the Future”. It actually was an outdoor history lesson of America that every person, especially the young, should have seen. Put it on your calendar for July 2013.
Next week: The Bellamy Brothers opening act at the Fair – our own local musician, Peggy Malone.